Although Kendrick Lamar dropped what's widely been considered one of the records of the year in To Pimp a Butterfly, his live set lists have largely consisted of material from his previous release, good kid, m.A.A.d city. Save for "King Kunta", "i", and "Alright", Kendrick's performances at both the Reading and Leeds festivals and Bonnaroo have been identikit to the past couple of years. The only times we've seen him showcase his new material has been in televised performances: on the Colbert Report he played a still untitled, unreleased song; on the Ellen Show he played "These Walls"; on Saturday Night Live he played "i". Which is why last night's performance on The Late Show is all the more exciting because, for the first time ever, Kendrick played a medley of tracks from To Pimp a Butterfly, including "U", "Momma" and "Wesley's Theory".
It's understandable why Kendrick doesn't want to take the record to festivals - it's not as instant as Good Kid Mad City. But on the basis of this performance it's also hard to believe that, should he choose to do so, a To Pimp A Butterfly tour, where Kendrick plays the album in full with a live band, wouldn't be anything less than a grandoise spectacle. In light of recent speculation that Kendrick singled out Drake on "King Kunta", it's also interesting the emphasis he places on the "ghostwriter" line in this performance. Watch below.